On Religious People

“If you could reason with religious people, there would be no religious people.”

– Gregory House

Young Tory of the Year

[Susan, a television presenter, (Stephen Fry) is in a box at a concert hall; there is a packed house behind her and an orchestra tuning up. A man called Brent Wheeler (Hugh Laurie) is sitting next to her.]

Susan: Hello and three dozen welcomes to the Harrowgate Young Tory of the Year, here at the Daily Mail Hall, Horrorgate, in front of an invited audience of local businessmen and their slightly awkward teenage children in pony-tails and annoying ties. With me is one of the judges, Brent Wheeler, and he’ll be giving expert advice and telling us what to look out for. Good evening Brent.

Brent: Quite right.

Susan: Brent, the standard last year was incredibly high, do you think we can look for something similar this year?

Brent: Well, Susan, I think we probably can. I’ve been a judge for some of the local heats and I can tell you the talent this year is as awesome as ever it’s been.

Susan: This being the night of the finals, the competitors will be concentrating on keynote speeches and displays of general prejudice and ignorance, is that right?

Brent: More or less. There is a new round this year, however, a Getting Shiny-faced in a T-shirt round.

Susan: T-shirt? That sounds very …

Brent: Well, this is the way modern Young Toryism is being developed. T-shirts show that it isn’t just an art for the middle classes, but has general American street fashion-wise appeal for the young and hip-trendy.

Susan: Right, well. The lights are going down behind me as you can probably hear, and our first competitor, Andrew Tredgold is ready to go on.

As a Young Tory, Andrew Tredgold, steps on to the stage with a speech. There is a blue cyclorama behind him with a Union Jack-Arrow logo and the slogan “Forward with into Britain tomorrow right step”.

Susan: (cont.) Andrew is in his second year at Exeter reading Human Bigotry and Libertarian Nonsense. He counts amongst his inspirations the “Family Values” theme by Kevin Patten, the “Further Cuts in Public Expenditure” suite by Kenneth Clarke, arranged Portillo, and the “Endless Variations in J. Major”. So, Andrew Tredgold, South West regional winner.

A young man called Andrew Tredgold (Hugh Laurie) stands in front of those perspex autocue screens and clears his throat. Stephen Fry is the conductor, a la Simon Rattle. Andrew watches nervously as Stephen gives him a reassuring smile and then cues him. The Planets – Jupiter by Gustav Holst is played in the background.

Andrew: (as Andrew: becoming incredibly fast) Conference. Core values, real punishment for offenders, family standards, opportunity for individual enterprise, roll back the frontiers of the state, Michael’s bold and imaginative initiative, and yes, why not corporal punishment, really crack down, young offenders, rules of law, and yes I make no apology, respect for ordinary decent vast majority, welfare spongers, as Norman said so clearly, individual enterprise culture, opportunity attack on trendy liberal educational wishy-washy to pick up on Kevin’s wonderfully forceful point, sloppy thinking, sixties, in Michael’s bold and imaginative values, standards, decency, family, law, yes. I make no apology and why not even perhaps, God and pride in country, decent ordinary sloppy people, vast majority of bold new initiatives, decent, family standards, core values, return to fifties, reponsibility, individual, respect, standard, values, and yes, why not, values, respect, standards, ordinary, decent apology, I make no standards, vast family law, and why not sloppy corporal God punishment individual decent spongers wishy-washy trendy family crime Michael values. Thank you.

Huge applause.

Susan: Well, the audience absolutely loving Andrew’s performance there. But what will the judges make of it, I wonder? Brent.

Brent: Well, it was wonderfully confident and assured, wasn’t it? Original, though. I’m not sure how much the judges will like that. Did you notice in one of the earlier passages he opted for “family standards” instead of the more classically correct “family values”? But the technique was astonishing for one his age: he was every bit as insulting as a Tory twice his age.

Susan: Any actual mistakes?

Brent: Not real mistakes, no.

Susan: I thought at one point that he was going to say something that made sense.

Brent: He just managed to avoid that, didn’t he? A tense moment. But, no. Very assured, very ghastly: completely sucked dry of youth, energy, ideals, imagination, love, passion or intelligence.

Susan: Well, while the audience vomit we’ll return you to the shop where we bought you.

 – Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie: A Bit of Fry & Laurie (1989-1995)

My Ass

[An American General (Stephen Fry) is seated at a large desk, smoking a huge cigar: a Stars and Stripes flag hangs behind him.]

General: Jacobson! Get your ass in here right now!
A Colonel (Hugh Laurie) enters, also in uniform.
Colonel: Sir!

General: Jacobson, what the hell am I going to do with your ass?
Colonel: My ass, sir?
General: Can you think of one goddamn reason why I shouldn’t kick your ass all the way back to New Mexico?
Colonel: Well, sir if this concerns…
General: You know what the hell it concerns, Jacobson. It concerns your ass! What does it concern?
Colonel: My ass, sir.

General: Do you recall what it was I said to you the last time you were in this here office?
Colonel: Well sir. You told me to move my ass, and haul my ass, and not to sit on my ass, because if I did, you would personally rearrange my ass.
General: Uh uh. Wrong, Mr Jacobson. I was not going to rearrange your ass – I was going to boil your ass in a bag, and have your ass for breakfast.
Colonel: – Have my ass for breakfast, sir.

General: Read the sign on my desk boy.
Colonel: “The buck stops at my ass.”
General: See, that’s why I have this here star on my shoulder and you don’t. Because my ass is on the line.
Colonel: The bottom line?
General: The bottom line.
Colonel: I understand.

General: Well, I am glad you got your ass straight on that one. Now Jacobson, I’ve got myself a problem.
Colonel: A problem, sir?
General: Yes. It seems that some goddamn college boy on the fifth floor wants a piece of my ass…
Colonel: Your ass, sir?
General: You bet your ass, my ass.

Colonel: Sir?
General: Yes, Jacobson?
Colonel: How does my ass fit into all of this?
General: It’s very simple, Jacobson. You are aware that your ass is mine?
Colonel: It is sir?
General: Oh yes, your ass is mine, mister. The day you joined this man’s army, you signed your ass over to me.

Colonel: I get it, sir.
General: Oh you do, do you?
Colonel: This guy wants a piece of your ass, so you’re thinking that, being as my ass is yours, maybe you could give him a piece of my ass as a way of saving your ass.

General: Jacobson, shut your ass. Nobody likes a smart Alec.

– Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie: A Bit of Fry & Laurie (1989-1995)

Marjorie’s Fall

[An English Victorian sitting room. Thomas (Stephen Fry) is fiddling with a clock on the mantelpiece. John (Hugh Laurie) enters, agitated.]

John: Thomas! I’m afraid I have some bad news.
Thomas: Just a moment, John. I promised Marjorie I’d mend this clock for her. I wonder if you could give me a hand.
John: Big hand?
Thomas: Little hand.

John: Anyway Thomas, listen to me. I have some bad news.
Thomas: Bad news?
John: It’s Marjorie.
Thomas: Marjorie?
John: She’s had a fall.
Thomas: Marjorie’s had a fall?
John: I’m afraid so. She was out riding this morning on Thunderbolt, and she hadn’t returned by the time Mrs Mempwaster arrived. It turns out she’d had a fall.

Thomas: Calm yourself John. Marjorie has had a fall?
John: Yes.
Thomas: Off a horse?
John: Well of course off a horse.
Thomas: I don’t see that there’s any “of course off a horse” about it, John. Girls nowadays are likely to fall off anything. Doesn’t have to be a horse.
John: No, alright. But in this case it was.
Thomas: She could have fallen off a chair, a table, a pianoforte, anything.
John: Yes, except that, in this case, she was riding a horse when it happened.
Thomas: When she fell off?
John: Yes.
Thomas: So, you reasoned to yourself, Marjorie has fallen from a horse?
John: That’s right. Thunderbolt.
Thomas: Thunderbolt, you say?
John: Yes.
Thomas: Well, Thunderbolt’s a horse, alright.
John: Exactly.

Thomas: Any damage?
John: Too soon to say. Cavendish is examining her now.
Thomas: That old fool. What does he know about horses?
John: Cavendish is examining Marjorie.
Thomas: Marjorie? Is she ill?
John: No. She fell off a horse.
Thomas: Fell off a horse? Then you’d better fetch Cavendish.
John: I have, Thomas. He’s in the drawing room.

Thomas: Horses are very big, John.
John: I know they are, Thomas.
Thomas: You fall off one of them, and anything can happen.
John: Quite.
Thomas: Well not “anything”.
John: No. Not “anything”.
Thomas: I mean this clock isn’t going to become Prime Minister, just because someone has fallen off a horse. I didn’t mean “anything” is that sense.

John: Of course not, Thomas. Anyway, Cavendish is examining her now.
Thomas: You said he was in the drawing room.
John: He is. Examining Marjorie.
Thomas: And where is she?
John: She’s also in the drawing room.
Thomas: So they’re both in the drawing room?
John: Yes.
Thomas: Perhaps he’s not such a fool after all. How is she?
John: Too soon to say. Sounds like a hell of a fall.
Thomas: From the horse?
John: Yes.
Thomas: Thunderbolt?
John: Yes.

Thomas: Now what the devil is Marjorie doing, falling off Thunderbolt?
John: You know how Marjorie loves to ride, Thomas.
Thomas: She was riding Thomas?
John: No no.
Thomas: I’m Thomas, John.
John: I know.
Thomas: She wasn’t riding me. Your story’s a bit twisted there, old fellow. It doesn’t add up. You said she was riding Thunderbolt.
John: She was.
Thomas: She was?
John: Yes.
Thomas: But she’s not any longer?
John: No. She fell off.
Thomas: Good God.
John: I know.
Thomas: Where is she?
John: In the drawing room.
Thomas: Marjorie was riding Thunderbolt in the drawing room!?
John: No. She fell off at Stratton Brook, where the path separates. That young fellow Cottrell found her and carried her to the drawing room.

Thomas: Stables would have been better I should have thought.
John: What?
Thomas: Drawing room’s no place for Thunderbolt.
John: Marjorie.
Thomas: What do you mean?
John: Marjorie’s in the drawing room.
Thomas: With Thunderbolt?
John: No. Thunderbolt’s in the stables.
Thomas: Oh. Well that’s alright, then.

John: It’s not alright, Thomas. She’s had a bad fall.
Thomas: Is she hurt?
John: Too soon to say. Cavendish is with her now.
Thomas: Cavendish? He’s a doctor, isn’t he?
John: Yes.

Thomas: I wonder if he knows anything about clocks.

– Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie: A Bit of Fry & Laurie (1989-1995)